Mortal enemies face off in combat to the death – and only one can survive.

That’s the popular narrative for the struggle between online and offline commerce. Yet the truth is more complicated. Since each has its advantages, collected the crucial information.

These facts and more can guide you to power your sales across either – or both – channels.

Know your customer

Too many retailers ignore this rule – whether they sell online or in a physical store. Consequently, the consumer’s experience fails to lead them to a gratifying purchase.

First, while it may be surprising, younger shoppers (18-24 and 25-34 demographics) prefer a “tactile” shopping experience. They like to see the item in person, touch it, and where applicable, try it on. Two-thirds of these shoppers seek the chance to “try out” what they will buy – an obvious advantage for offline stores to exploit.

Yet two-thirds of Millennials also say they would rather shop online. So the savvy retailer finds ways to maximize this important demographic’s preferences.

First-hand vs. research

The internet opens the door to vast amounts of consumer information – reviews, product descriptions, and videos. Fifty-four percent of people say they prefer online shopping because they can compare products and prices.

Even so, as noted above, many customers like to know exactly what they are buying. This first-hand experience is the reason given by 56% of those who make purchases at brick-and-mortar stores.

Yet, the two options aren’t exclusive. More than half of those buying appliances or electronics in-store researched their choices online.

Omnichannel fusion

Retailers are learning the value of meeting consumer expectations. Half of all American retailers offer an omnichannel experience. Consumer electronics, media products, and home improvement (among other sectors) lead the way in meeting consumer demand across various channels.

So, you can view the online-offline comparison as a battle if you like. However, smart retailers are cheering both to victory. 

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